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MDW16: Stellar Works Brings Craft and Industry to Milan
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One of the highlights of Zona Tortona this year, was a small space entitled Craft Industry, designed by Stellar Works creative directors Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu of Neri&Hu to showcase their latest collections for the brand alongside other designers. It was a cozy space, which felt very homey after a week spent exploring big exhibitions.

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Their Ming Collection of wooden stacking chairs and aluminium tables draws inspiration from the history of decorative arts in China, and yet by pairing their ornamental motifs right back, Neri&Hu have created something very contemporary.

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The James collection by Yabu Pushelberg comprises a chaise (above), a desk, a stool and a bar cart, was inspired by performance cars – references that can be seen not only in the shapes of the pieces, but also in the materials used: black metal, walnut wood and matte leather. “Is an understated exploration of modern masculinity – at once bold and defined, but also light and elegant,” said a statement from Stellar Works. “All four pieces have been designed to turn negative space into an aesthetic feature, making use of floating planes and wireframes to lend them an air of sleekness and simplicity.”

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The Rén collection of stained ash tables and chairs by Space Copenhagen came out of a desire to create a series in the Danish Modern tradition, incorporating craft techniques from the traditions of Japan and China – resulting in a collection that is impossible to pin down to a time or place.

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As its name suggests, the Utility collection, which includes a sofa (above), lounge chairs, barstools and stools, is designed for functionality – combining comfort with practicality and a luxe twist on the industrial aesthetic.

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The double meaning of French word ‘chambre,’ which means both ‘room’ and  specifically ‘bedroom’, (it can also mean house or compartment) inspired Neri&Hu to create a room-like bed that provides somewhere to sleep, but also some of the functions usually provided by the wider room – a fabric-clad headboard is higher than usual and wraps around the sleeper to create a sense of an enclosed space and a continuous guide rail provides somewhere to hang items, including suspended tables attached to either side.

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The Bund Chair (seen above with the Utility coffee table) was originally designed for the renovation of the Jean George Restaurant, a French fine-dining restaurant on the Bund waterfront in Shanghai – one of the most recognizable parts of the Chinese city, which rose to fame during the roaring 1920s. The restaurant’s interior was a celebration of that era. “The chair’s design inspiration is a graceful modern articulation of the art-deco memory from the Bund’s post-colonial history,” said a statement from Stellar Works. “The Bund Chair offers a generous proportion and classic form, where French elegance meets a uniquely Shanghai vibrancy.”

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The Utility Collection also includes mirrors, dining tables and chairs, all with the same luxe-industrial juxtaposition. “The result is a set of elegant and versatile pieces that fit seamlessly and gracefully into any environment, from high-end hospitality to residential projects,” said Stellar Works.

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Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven writer and keynote speaker championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. With 20 years' experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine and Monocle24 – as well as being Editor at Large for Design Milk. She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.